Bill Richardson presents thoughtful perspectives on our national debate regarding gun control (“How is an illusion going to make us safer?,” AFN, March 22).
Our nation now averages 11,000 gun homicides per year. The tiny percentage of those deaths (about 2 percent) caused by mass shootings such as Newtown, Aurora, Tucson and the others listed by Richardson are, however, unique in their impact on our communities. Based on averages, 30 individuals will be murdered today by gunfire. Each tragic story of a life cut short will be no less tragic than the stories of any of the students shot at Newtown or Virginia Tech, or the speakers or bystanders in Tucson. But we are forced to confront mass shootings — am I safe at a shopping mall; is my child safe in his or her first-grade class room or college lecture hall; can I safely enjoy a movie premier? We uniquely recall the seven mass shootings listed by Richardson, more than the same daily toll, taken one at a time.
Would limiting gun magazines to seven or 10 rounds be simply an illusion? Perhaps – I am not a gun expert and accept Richardson’s description as credible; consequently let’s work with Richardson’s logic. He tells us that a magazine can be changed in three seconds. If it isn’t a major inconvenience for a mass shooter in the heat of a crime, it cannot be called an inconvenience for a sports enthusiast or even a fortuitously armed good citizen as a crime unfolds. He has described a worst case scenario where the law will do nothing to prevent these crimes while inflicting no inconvenience on the law abiding citizen.
Further, Richardson tells us of the number of magazine changes at various mass shootings — let’s look at Ft. Hood. “The shooter fired more than 200 rounds, requiring between seven and 10 magazine changes.” The story might not have been any different if this battle required between 20 and 30 magazine changes — maybe carrying two- to three-times the number of magazines is just as convenient, and two- to three-times the number of three-second changes would have had no impact — but with lack of inconvenience for the law abiding citizen, perhaps it’s worth checking this out.
Richardson acknowledges that a magazine change in Tucson created the opportunity to bring that event to a close earlier than the intent of the next magazine to be loaded. Should we trade another victim or two in a future Tucson, for the sports enthusiasts’ concern over their three-second magazine change?
Finally, Richardson highlights a concern of these shootings taking place in “gun-free zones” and the challenges of unarmed confrontation of the criminal. In the heat of the battle, when “there’s noise, there’s fear, and victims are trying to avoid getting shot” would the second or third good-citizen shooter recognize the difference between the initial perpetrator and the initial, armed, good-shooter responder, or would additional innocent victims fall to friendly fire?
Limiting the size of magazines is only one, admittedly small, step in trying to reduce gun violence in America, which sees gun violence at rates which are orders-of-magnitude greater than any other industrial nation. Registration is also in discussion, and opponents get in their state-registered vehicles, drive legally with their state-issued driver’s licenses, and attend rallies to argue against the government involvement in gun ownership.
I don’t know if limiting gun magazines to seven or 10 rounds will prevent mass shootings, or limit casualties from a mass shooter. Several states prohibit magazines with more than 10 rounds from being used during hunting season. Should we as a nation be protecting our deer more than our shoppers, movie-goers, and students?
• Dennis Tierney has been a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2006.